Back to school means back to reality. We know that being a student, especially in post-secondary education, can get pretty pricey. From books, food, shopping, transportation, furniture and entertainment, even the most well-rounded student may get frazzled and become down with money woes. Luckily for you, we’ve put together a simple how-to, so that you can get through your college years stress-fee, while on a budget.

Work

Getting a job might seem like it’s adding to the stress, but it’s actually easier than you think. There are many sites and employers who look strictly for students to employ. Granted the pay may not be much over minimum wage (sometimes even less), but the old saying, “every little bit counts” has proven to be true. The internet is a great source, but don’t limit yourself to it. Walking in to a Tim Horton’s, McDonald’s or the little jewellery store around the corner can be ten times more effective. But don’t forget about on-campus jobs: school libraries, cafeterias and front offices are always looking for people to catalogue, recount stock or answer phones during breaks and lunches. Your professors sometimes also need help with double-checking grades and such. There is but a small wealth waiting for you.

Books

It’s no secret—the newest edition of your course required textbook is probably not that different from older editions. While the smell (sniff-sniff) of new books is great, the price is never right. Second-hand books are the way to go. Find your school’s online book re-sale site and save big! Whether you’re shopping on Kijiji or a Facebook group for used books at your school, make sure to price check with different ads to make sure you’re getting the best deal possible, and remember, don’t be afraid to haggle a bit!

Pinterest: Food, Clothes, Furniture Et Al

Everything is pinned these days, and fellas, this is not just for the ladies. Pinterest will give you excellent ideas for eating on a budget. Yes, you can still enjoy the fuel that feeds that noggin of yours. Gone are the days when Ramen noodles and Kraft dinner occupied our tummies. While you’re online, check out various food blogs and actually type in: “cheap meals of the week” in your search engine and get ready to drool.

What else do people Pin? Why clothing of course. Make your own clothes out of your own clothes—no jokes. Got that t-shirt that’s gone beyond wear and tear and you know if you should give it to Goodwill or The Salvation Army? You’d be surprised at how many headbands, tanks and bandeaus you can fashion with only a pair of scissors.

If you’re living in an apartment (and we recommend that all students experience the “student life” in an apartment for at least one semester), then you’ll want to have a couple of furniture items. While places like IKEA are great options, you still need mum and dad’s credit card. Take a short trip to what we call “Suburban Bliss.” Homeowners are constantly tossing out what they consider “old” or “worn out” furniture by the curb. Even for the shabbier pieces, nothing that some sandpaper or a nice throw can’t fix. The key? Find out when garbage day is and hover. Just try not to attract attention that will warrant a 911 call. It’s a hit or miss, but totally worth a try. If for no other reason, than to see the houses and remember why you’re in college to begin with.

Electronics

The world of technology cannot be avoided, but it doesn’t mean you need to go straight to big retailers like Best Buy and Future Shop. Our good friends at Newegg have got you covered with all the latest back-to-school gadgets for unbeatable deals. Not an internet shopping? Fear not, somewhere near Kensington Market are electronics stores tailored for the student budget. Calculators, computers and all kinds of “drives” are priced at nearly 35% cheaper. We love Best Buy and Future shop, but for now, let’s leave it for exactly that: the future.

Flyers and Coupons

Do not throw away or ignore those pesky weekly flyers—they are a college student’s best friend. With department stores and grocery chains in constant competition, you will most likely find deals for everything you need. Don’t forget to save those fast food coupons too. Even if you’re not into junk food (props to you), you’ll probably have those late nights where you just don’t want to cook. Good thing you’ll have those Burger King coupons to save you some bucks! And folks, price matching really does exist, although we know it can get a bit tedious. Luckily, the Flipp app for iPhones, iPads and Androids does all the work for you. Simply download the app, go through the weekly flyers, “clip” your desired coupons and present them at your local grocer for big savings.

Fun, Fun, Fun

Free events are always around, you just have to look. Check out your bulletin boards and online sites (like us, duh) for events around the city that are cheap, or even free. There’s always free entry at the AGO on Wednesday evenings, Tuesday movies at the theatres are half price, cheap drink nights at bars and student discounts at many places, you just have to ask (and keep your student ID on you).

Health and Transportation

Use your school gym and sign up for your neighbourhood yoga classes. Then walk or cycle every where you can. Not only do you save, but you stay healthy too.

If you must drive—sign up for one of the many car-sharing services such as Autoshare, Zipcar or Car2go.

Loyalty Cards

Sign up for as many free points cards as you can from your favourite shops. You’ll be amazed at how quickly you can rack up points for some cool perks, or savings off your bill here and there. Most of the retailers at your local mall will offer loyalty cards so that you can earn points.

Tip Jar

Place a tip jar on your kitchen counter or somewhere visible. Every time you see it, try to throw in whatever spare change you can summon, or even jokingly urge guests to help the cause—they just might! In a year, use what’s in it to treat yourself. Either take a trip or buy that leather jacket you’ve been eyeing. Either way, it won’t feel the same as just swiping your credit card and stressing out about the inevitable debt you’ve just accumulated.

Now that we’ve shared all our tips and trips, go on and enjoy your college years!